A SPACE for writers and poets designed by an acclaimed artist will open at the historic Arbroath Abbey on Saturday.

Designed by artist Bobby Niven, The New Scriptorium is inspired by the “power and influence of the medieval Abbey” around which the town of Arbroath grew.

Scriptoriums were rooms used for writing manuscripts and were common in medieval European monasteries.

The first scriptorium at the abbey for over 500 years, the project was originally commissioned to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath – the letter that declared Scotland’s independence from England in 1320 – though was delayed due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

Niven said: “We know that Arbroath Abbey had a very large and active community, including monks who could transcribe and illuminate documents and bound early manuscripts into books.

“The ability to read and write and convey information and document history was as powerful then as it is today, and I wanted to reflect that activity in the design of the interior space.”

With colourful, snake-like arm motifs taking over the walls, the scriptorium is surrounded by grass, with the abbey visible from its large roof window.

The space will host events led by the scriptorium’s artists in residence, the first of which are set to take place in July.

Culture Minister Neil Gray will attend today’s opening ceremony alongside pupils from Arbroath Academy – who will showcase artwork created in workshops led by mural artist Katie Guthrie.

Gray said: “Our historic environment, culture and literature play an important part in shaping our future and this stunning Scriptorium is part of a legacy that will benefit generations to come.

“I’m especially pleased to see that the Scriptorium will be used as a writing studio and for a range of diverse community events as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories.

“I’m sure this wonderful space will be an inspiration for the people using it to write many new stories.”

Stephen Duncan, director of marketing and engagement at Historic Scotland, said: “We are pleased to be able to reopen part of this site to the public and we the programme of events at the Scriptorium as a key component of our visitor offer and engagement at Arbroath.

“The abbey is rich in history, impressive architecturally and invaluable culturally to Angus and Scotland. We look forward to seeing the writings and poems inspired by the spirit of the place for Scotland’s Year of Stories.”